Freedom Song Reviews

FREEDOM SONG: A Personal Story of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement

New York: William Morrow, 1987
by Mary King

“Met in the flesh, some of the heroic, unsung organizers of the Southern civil rights movement were female; a tiny handful were white. . . . Mary King . . . spent . . . four years in ‘a scrappy, fearless, and ragtag group that at times held the nation by the scruff of the neck during the 1960s’. . . . ‘Meticulous Mary,’ as a friend dubbed her had the wisdom to stuff copies of reports, letters and memorandums in her desk drawer. . . . Freedom Song will stand as a monument to that wondrous time.”

– New York Times Book Review


“Wonderfully thorough history . . . of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC — probably the most exciting and innovative of the movement organizations, and one which functioned almost entirely outside Dr. King’s [no relation] orbit. . . . Freedom Song is much more than an account of who did what and when, though for that alone it would be worth the price. . . . King
tells it all in its complexity and ambivalence.”

– San Francisco Chronicle Review


“. . . . [A] major contribution that provides the emotional and political sense of what was commonly called ‘the movement.’ King, a white woman who later held senior positions in the Carter Administration, was at the center of SNCC in its earliest, most tumultuous phases. She brings alive the sense of purpose, of dedication that attracted the best of a generation. . . . Deeply
felt. . . . Freedom Song is essential reading for anyone interested in finding the truth of the era.”

– United Press International


“ . . . [T]he untold story of the Southern civil rights movement [is] . . . . that the real seeds of the women’s movement were sown in the fertile groundings of SNCC’s functional originality as a
social movement without precedence in American history.”

– Los Angeles Times Book Review


“The story of King’s personal growth in SNCC conveys the incandescent intensity of Movement life . . . powerfully compelling . . . Along with her praise, King confronts hard questions, confusions, human failings.”

– Mother Jones


“A personal chronicle of the tumultuous period from 1962-1964 by an active participant. . . . [King’s] technique here is to present her experience as it happened, eschewing any reinterpretation of events. This makes for gripping commentary. . . . With regard to personalities, King’s observations are perceptive and her characterizations compelling”

–Kirkus Reviews


“Eloquent and moving”

– Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., announcing Freedom Song as a winner of the 1988 Robert F. Kennedy Book Awards